Have you ever considered entering yourself or your Company into a category at an awards event but didn’t know where to start? It can seem like a daunting task when faced with a specific judging criteria or set of instructions, and for many of us it also goes against our very nature – the folk of Northern Ireland aren’t very good at blowing their own trumpet!
However, winning or even getting shortlisted for an award is one of the quickest ways to instantly build credibility and boost your brand’s profile to your target audience. And that’s just the beginning. Taking a step back and attempting to see your business through the eyes of a judging panel can make you really focus on what makes you or your Company so great. Once you have taken the time to put this down on paper you will be surprised at what you can then do with the content. You can re-purpose the information for an endless number of media, such as your Company literature, Social Media, or for your next sales pitch.
What’s more, you are almost guaranteed a fast track to the Editor and key personnel within the publication that is running the event. This means that they become more familiar with you and your brand and are therefore more likely to feature you in their magazine, newspaper, website or Social Media channels in future.
So, that’s the ‘why’, now for the ‘how’…
1. Believe you can Win
If you don’t believe that you can win there is no chance you will be able to convince a panel of judges that you are worthy. Be confident in your achievements and abilities.
2. Choose Categories Carefully
Submitting one or two well-crafted entries is better than entering a number of categories half-heartedly. Unless you have the time to spend on entering lots of awards and lots of categories, consider which events will benefit your business most and then select the category or categories that you think you have the most chance of getting shortlisted for. Read the criteria carefully and make sure that you can demonstrate that you meet everything asked for. You can find a comprehensive list of awards events for NI businesses to enter here.
3. Create Engaging Content
Regarding the content of your entry the most important thing is to answer the question! As simple as this sounds, Companies often get carried away with telling the judge what they want to tell them rather than what they are asked for. For example, if the criteria asks you to demonstrate how you have solved problems for customers, there is no point in talking about what you have done to increase employee satisfaction, unless of course there is a direct link between employee satisfaction and the specific customer issue.
Matching your experience or strengths to the specific criteria is paramount. As a starting point it can help to find out who was shortlisted for the award in previous years and ask why. This will give you a clear idea of what the judges are looking for.
4. Prove it!
It doesn’t mean anything to say that you are the market leader or that you have the most satisfied customers if you don’t prove it – otherwise they are just words on a page. You must be able to back up any claims made with facts, figures and testimonials from credible sources.
It’s also powerful to have testimonials from your customers to validate your claims. If you can, ask your best customers to supply a short paragraph explaining why they choose to do business with you or buy your products or services. It will be especially persuasive if you can get this on your customers’ own headed paper and have it signed so that it can be truly validated.
Make it easy for the judging panel to believe you. Unless you are asked, don’t simply provide names and numbers of customers to act as referees, as the judging panel are unlikely to make calls. Similarly, you should avoid linking to external sources – web pages etc – as it is generally the case that only information contained within the submission will be considered. Using screenshots and quotes from external sources is much more effective.
5. Don’t Forget Formatting
Even if the guidance notes for the submission state that formatting isn’t important, it is! Humans are, by nature, drawn to attractive things. Use subheadings and spacing to make your entry easy to read, and use visual content, such as pictures, charts and tables to illustrate points made.
Attention to detail, not only with your messaging, but with spelling, grammar and punctuation, will also help to make a good impression. Ask someone with a good eye for detail to proof-read your entry once it is complete, to make sure you haven’t missed any errors. It’s easy to read something how you intended it to read and not see mistakes.
Above all, lots of facts and figures are great but don’t be afraid to show personality, and definitely write with passion! Even the most impressive statistics can fail to capture attention if the entry lacks enthusiasm. If your passion for your business oozes from the page, it can go a long way in winning over a judge.
If you would like to increase your chances of success at any awards event, why not let us use our extensive experience and proven success to help? Read more about our brand awareness service here.